Reporters Who Made History: Great American Journalists on the Issues and Crises of the Late 20th Century

Reporters Who Made History: Great American Journalists on the Issues and Crises of the Late 20th Century

Reporters Who Made History: Great American Journalists on the Issues and Crises of the Late 20th Century

Reporters Who Made History: Great American Journalists on the Issues and Crises of the Late 20th Century

Synopsis

This volume looks back at the last half of the 20th century through the work and reminiscences of ten of the era's preeminent journalists.

Reporters Who Made History: Great American Journalists on the Issues and Crises of the Late 20th Century looks at a series of extraordinary chapters in the American story through the eyes of ten giants of journalism: Helen Thomas, Anthony Lewis, Morley Safer, Earl Caldwell, Ben Bradlee, Georgie Anne Geyer, Ellen Goodman, Juan Williams, David Broder, and Judy Woodruff.

Taking each of these journalists in turn, Hallock focuses on his or her work in the course of a single decade, drawing on the author’s interviews with the journalist, archival research, memoirs, and critical studies. These exemplars of the best postwar American news reporting never took the easy path of simply restating policies and uncritically regurgitating press releases. Instead, their skeptical, independent, and searching methods of investigative and analytical journalism actually influenced the course of the very events they covered and significantly shaped our understanding of our national past.

Excerpt

Some things you just never forget.

One of the most vivid — and chilling — for me was a spring day in 1982, when I was fishing from a canoe on a farm pond with another doctoral student at Indiana University. As we caught panfish and bass, I mentioned that I had recently read Michael Herr’s Dispatches, which was about his time as a war correspondent in Vietnam, and had found it to be so riveting that I couldn’t put it down. My friend surprised me by saying that after his Army tour in Vietnam had ended, he had gone back for about a year as a newspaper correspondent and had known Herr well, and they were still friends. in fact, two weeks before, Herr, who was wandering around the country, stopped by his house unannounced and spent a night. We talked for a while about the book, which I strongly believe should be required reading for every mass communication student because of its mesmerizing writing as well as what it says about being a journalist, and then he stunned me: “If I could, I’d go back to a war in an instant.”

“You’re crazy,” I replied incredulously.

“No,” he answered quietly. “Ever since I left Vietnam, everything has been dull.”

In many ways, that sentence summed up Herr’s experience in Vietnam, too. He shunned the relative safety of Saigon, preferring instead to hop on a military helicopter to join the Marines, who were called “grunts,” at dangerous jungle outposts. He saw horrific things. He continually worried about being injured or killed, but it was such an adrenalin rush when he survived to see another day that he did not want to leave.

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